MADISON, Wis. – Ascendium Education Group has awarded $1.45 million in its next round of grants from the $10 million Maintain Momentum for Student Success Initiative, which aims to sustain vital postsecondary education reform work and prevent equity gaps from widening amid the historic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maintain Momentum recipients are membership organizations and networks that were chosen because their members substantially serve low-income students, which is the target population of Ascendium's philanthropy.
Grantees in the current round are:
- Association of American Colleges & Universities: AAC&U's mission is to advance the vitality and public standing of liberal education by making quality and equity the foundations for excellence in undergraduate education in service to democracy.
- National College Attainment Network: NCAN is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality and quantity of support that underrepresented students receive in applying to, entering and succeeding in postsecondary education.
- Yes We Must Coalition: The coalition strives to increase degree attainment of students from low-income backgrounds by promoting the work of independent, not-for-profit colleges and universities where undergraduate enrollment of Pell-eligible students is 50% or more.
The Maintain Momentum grants, which now exceed $4.5 million, are allowing networks and membership organizations to offer discounted dues to their members. Grants also allow services and offerings to be adapted for remote and online delivery, even as the grantees continue championing such reforms as data-informed decision-making, guided pathways reform and leadership development.
“AAC&U, NCAN and Yes We Must provide the training and support that keep these critical student success reforms moving despite unprecedented conditions,” Amy Kerwin, Ascendium’s vice president – education philanthropy, said in a statement.
Funds from the first round of grants are already helping numerous colleges maintain and enhance their student success work, especially with an eye towards equity. Achieving the Dream (ATD), a first-round grant recipient, offered these details about how some of its members are maintaining momentum:
- Tallahassee Community College (FL) is adding additional teaching and learning coaching to help support and enhance the faculty’s online teaching capacity.
- Northern Essex Community College (MA) created a professional development workshop in teaching and learning and culturally responsive pedagogy.
- The University of the District of Columbia Community College is mounting a College Student Success Relaunch, working with their coaches to improve student intake and assessment and build program pathways for workforce credential, associate and/or bachelor’s degree attainment.
Ascendium strives to bring about systemic change through strategic investments in capacity building, data infrastructure, partnerships and networks, evidence building and policy change. Through its four grantmaking focus areas, Ascendium supports efforts that aim to remove structural barriers to student success, streamline key learner transitions, expand postsecondary education in prison, and support rural postsecondary education and workforce training.